A few months back I spent a weekend in Chicago for the Burning Fight book release show. Granted this wasnt an exclusively Chicago hardcore event per se, but a number of Chicago-based bands were on display as part of the festivities. One such band, and one of Chicagos most established, was The Killer. Watching the hometown crowd react to their performance was quite a sight to be seen. A sense of pride, unity, and respect could be seen through this display of support as The Killer performed, even if they were one of the first bands of the day.
The Killer return with their second full-length, Not All Who are Lost , which is the follow-up to Better Judged by Twelve Than Carried by Six. The album follows in much the same line as the previous effort, heavily laced with bruising metallic hardcore. But within the normally strict confines of their hardcore sound can be found lacings of metal, thrash, and d-beat.
God Forgot launches this record into action with burly guitars by the duo of Shane Merrill and Eugene Marino. The rhythm section of drummer Tim Remis and bassist Andrew Morrissey offer a substantially heavy backbone to the sound as well - rolling drums open the song prior to the introduction of the crushing guitars and thick basslines. Vocalist Luke Gray commands the mic with gruff and forced throat, much along the line of Integrity vocalist Dwid Hellion. My only gripe with the vocals is they are mixed very low with the rest of the music; I would think the vocals should be more prevalent, especially given the subject matter.
Over the course of the record The Killer bash out cut after cut of metal-infused hardcore. Final Prayer of the Devils Bastard is a heavy, muddy display of New York influenced hardcore with a modern twist. Lake of Fire is a bruising cut that brings to mind sludgy metal along the lines of Crowbar and Entombed: barking vocals, slow-churning riffs, and pummeling drums. I Know That You Know is easily my favorite cut. Not only does the song crush, but the lyrics are seething with anger and resentment:
This place no longer sings my inspiration / My heroes all got rich and retired / Youre a fucking faker that was lying from the start / Act like you dont know / But I know that you know / Smash the actors / Cast them out of our world / Dont fuck with the only thing / That we have / Theres no money over here / And there is no fucking fame.
While there are many strong points on the record, I found some of the longer tracks tended to drag out just a bit. Strange Terrain almost seems like two different songs it could have been split in two. Higher than the Sky reaches beyond six minutes; I could have done with a much shorter version. The Killer is at their best with the three-minute slabs of faster-paced hardcore - Darker is a prime example of this.
As previously mentioned, the mixing of the record leaves a bit to be desired. The vocals are buried beneath the guitars and drumming. And the overall mixing and mastering sounds rather raw. Its not that Im seeking a clean-sounding over-produced studio venture - that would have been terrible - but I feel the recording suffers as a result of the overall muddiness in the production.
Nevertheless, with their new full-length effort, The Killer demonstrates why Chicago continues to be a force in the world of hardcore. This is a solid display of menacing, pessimistic, hardcore music. Alongside their peers in Harms Way, Convicted, Iron Rain, and more they will continue to bring the focus toward their hometown, a scene deserving of recognition.
7.0 / 10
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